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How to Assess Workload and Set Goals for a Recruiter?

How many positions should a recruiter manage in a year? Is it 15, 20, 25, or 30 positions, even more?

This question constantly arises in discussions, and I believe that none of our clients has ever failed to ask it!

In this article, we will share our expertise and tools to jointly address the following questions:

  • What makes some recruitment processes more labor-intensive than others?

  • When do I know if I need to hire an additional person for my recruitment team?

  • On what criteria should I base the distribution of work within my recruitment team?

How many roles should a recruiter manage?

What Makes a Position Challenging?

There are two main external factors that can influence the difficulty of filling a position: the Scarcity and Viscosity of the market. We will explain these concepts developed by WorkMeTender and guide you on how to navigate each market type.


Scarcity refers to the availability of profiles in the market.

A common profile means there's a large pool of competent and relevant candidates available, while a rare profile indicates limited candidate availability.

To some extent, scarcity can also be indirectly created by high demand, for example, if there are many profiles in the market but even more job openings, ultimately, the ratio of available and addressable candidates will be as low as in a market with simply few candidates.

For instance:

In France, about 125,000 people graduate from industrial schools annually for between 90,000 and 110,000 jobs open to them on the market. Yet, only a third of these graduates pursue these jobs, creating a deficit of 48,000 to 68,000 candidates across the market!

Here, profiles were not originally scarce, but we failed to offer them an appealing and/or satisfactory path, creating scarcity in this market.

Another example:

If I am a freshly graduated Marketing student, I will enter a market where there are clearly fewer job offers than candidates. I won't be approached directly (this may change with years of experience). → This is not a market of rare profiles.

The scarcity of profiles in a market is often termed a "shortage," echoing the concept of human "resources." All companies find themselves competing for the same targeted candidates, yet we're not in a situation where people rushed for flour packages in stores during the 2020 pandemic (#FunFact: there was no flour shortage at the time, but a lack of personnel to package the flour, hence flour eventually returned in very large bags on our shelves);

It's not a shortage per se since the candidates are there.

Perhaps they are not accessible, but potential candidates are not consumables: we can influence a market's availability by making our target candidates more inclined to join us.


Viscosity refers to how easily candidates change jobs. A fluid market indicates that candidates are more willing to switch jobs quickly, while a viscous market suggests that candidates are less inclined to change positions.

For example:

If I am an expert Architect engaged in a project, I would likely want to see the project to its completion before changing jobs. → This market has high viscosity.

If I am a Developer working on several maintenance projects, I probably did not witness the projects' beginnings and will not see their ends, so this factor weighs less in my decision to change jobs. → This market has low viscosity.

Another example:

If I am a Salesperson with a well-developed client portfolio that took me quite a time to build, it will take very compelling arguments to make me want to start over elsewhere. → This market has high viscosity.

If I am a Salesperson in Lead Generation (pure prospecting) in an organization where other people close the deals I start, then starting new sales cycles is part of my job. This factor weighs less in my decision to change jobs. → This market has low viscosity.

The Viscosity of a market means that we must engage in a different timeline with our target candidates: it's not about being in a purely transactional approach (i.e., "I have a position for you, do you want to talk about it?"), but in a conversational approach where we create long-term engagement (through content sourcing, employer branding, slow recruitment, etc.), with a simple goal: for potential candidates to think of us when they are ready to change jobs.

So, how do we assess the necessary recruitment methods based on these two criteria?

We establish an SVM: a Scarcity-Viscosity Matrix.

Scarcity-Viscosity Matrix

The matrix is organized as follows:




1/ Common Fluid profiles

2/ Common Viscous profiles


3/ Rare Fluid profiles

4/ Viscous Rare profiles

You can categorize all your positions and professions in an MRV.

Let's analyze the matrix categories together

1/ Common fluid profiles:

Positions requiring common fluid profiles are generally easier to fill. Recruiters can quickly find competent candidates and persuade them to change jobs.

Recruitment strategies for these positions can focus on speed and efficiency. Post job offers online and focus on evaluation.

If you wish to improve the attractiveness of your job offers, this is where to do it.

2/ Common viscous profiles:

For positions requiring common viscous profiles, recruiters need to be creative to attract candidates. Although there are many competent candidates in the market, they are not necessarily ready to change jobs quickly.

Recruiters must offer attractive incentives to encourage candidates to consider new opportunities. Recruitment communication and employer branding are your best assets here. If applicable to your market, using CV databases or any other tool that indicates your candidates' search status could be relevant.

These are also profiles for which the competitive aspect of your EVP (Employee Value Proposition) will be a key foundation.

If you haven't worked on your EVP yet, this is where to start.

3/ Rare fluid profiles:

This is where the largest recruitment volumes currently lie. Positions requiring rare fluid profiles pose a challenge for recruiters due to the low number of candidates available in the market at any given time. This is what we mean by a "tense market."

However, the market remains fluid, and by using the right methods and having tailored sourcing and pitches, these candidates are generally open to new opportunities.

Recruiters must focus on quickly identifying these candidates and approaching them with offers that meet their expectations. For rare fluid profiles, sourcing and direct approach are the most suitable methods.

But be cautious with the "cleanliness" of your direct approaches!

While sourcing can be easily automated, engagement cannot. And with rare profiles, word of mouth quickly spreads your reputation.

Similarly, if your profiles are rare, don't "waste" them.

There's no point in focusing solely on sourcing if your assessment practices or the candidate experience provided are insufficient (what is your conversion rate between candidates who agree to talk with your recruitment team, and those who end up accepting an offer? This reflects the quality of your post-sourcing recruitment process).

Your sourcing practices and candidate experience can then be a handicap or an advantage: word of mouth works for both good and bad experiences!

If you want to enhance the quality of your recruitment process, this is where to do it.

4/ Rare viscous profiles:

AH. Here we are. Positions requiring rare viscous profiles are the most difficult to fill. Recruiters must invest significant efforts to identify and persuade these candidates to consider new opportunities. We often refer to this as the "niche market".

Matrice Rareté-Viscosité d'un Recrutement

If your market is "niche": dive into the niche and say Hello.

The goal here is to ensure you know your potential candidates, but also that they know you. Abandon the transactional approach and focus on something else: ensure your target candidates have all the information they need to choose you when they're ready to change jobs.

How to assess the Internal Recruiter workload?

However, the daily challenges a recruiter faces or their workload cannot be defined solely by external criteria: some efforts are primarily internal.

And the two most impacting internal factors for a Talent Acquisition team are Internal Friction and Volume.

Internal Friction

Sometimes, recruitment difficulties are not just in the market: they are also within your company.

Numerous aspects can hinder recruitment, make recruiters' tasks more challenging, or simply increase their workload. These elements are internal frictions, frictional forces that slow down recruitment efforts and sometimes change their direction.

Here are examples of internal frictions:

  • Not all managers have the same level of autonomy over their recruitments (and thus, stronger support is needed from recruiters);

  • Not all managers have the same level of engagement in their recruitments (and thus, additional efforts are required from recruiters); A good recruiter will always prefer 30 positions to fill with cooperative managers than 10 with managers who don't listen and undertake actions that can be counterproductive for recruitment.

  • Not all departments offer the same prospects of horizons and stability; it's not the same to recruit for a company that hires 200 people for the same profession every year for 15 years, and a startup that may ask you to revise the entire recruitment plan three times a year. Of course, that's part of the game when working in a startup, but we cannot consider this workload (and the mental load that comes with it) as negligible: it must be accounted for.

  • Not all recruitment processes have the same validation procedures. Some processes assure recruiters that all recruitment missions reaching them have been validated, budgeted, challenged, considered internally, etc., when other processes imply that all these tasks fall to the Talent Acquisition team.

You get the idea: it would be wrong to think that 100% of a Talent Acquisition team's recruitment efforts are directed externally; there are necessarily efforts and a workload that plays out internally.

My advice is simply to accept this, to better measure it.

Because what matters as a Recruitment Manager or HR Director is indeed to make informed decisions about recruitment strategy and actions.


The same efforts are not deployed when recruiting for a single position for a profession, knowing that there probably won't be any others that year, as when recruiting several dozen similar profiles in one exercise.

Here, factors can both positively and negatively weigh on a recruiter's workload.

For example:

If I recruit 1 DevOps Expert a year, even if my profile is on a market considered Rare and Viscous, I will not invest in a long-term recruitment approach. It simply would not be cost-effective to develop a content strategy, events, and conversational sourcing for just one position.

This is actually one of the cases when outsourcing recruitment might be relevant: if you do not foresee volume on a specific market and need to quickly ramp up on this market for a single position, unless you have a lot of free time (let's agree this hypothesis is science fiction), your time will be more useful and profitable spent on other tasks and missions.

Conversely, if you plan to recruit 10 DevOps Experts a year (and we're talking about permanent positions, so the likelihood that you'll at least have to manage turnover for this population in subsequent years is strong), even if you know nothing about it, it becomes interesting for you to invest:

  • Invest in yourself: gain knowledge about the market, take an interest in these professions, take the time to talk with enough people from this market to develop a technical veneer;

  • Invest in your sourcing and recruitment process: develop sustainable sourcing approaches, create dedicated content, devise a recruitment process that allows for thorough evaluation and a suitable candidate experience, etc.

It will, therefore, be necessary to juxtapose the volume of positions for a given profession with its recurrence on one hand, and with the recruiter's expertise on that profession on the other, to correctly assess the workload engaged on these recruitment missions.

Volume is a complex factor in Recruitment

In other words: for a single profession, the difficulty curve will climb very quickly from the first position to recruit, but this difficulty tends to stabilize and then decrease a bit with the volume of positions for that profession; this is where investing makes sense if there is recurrence.

La difficulté du recrutement dépend directement du nombre de postes similaires sur lesquels on recrute

However, as seen here, the difficulty curve is not linear: if the volume of positions continues to increase, there will come a time when the efforts we have put in place will no longer be sufficient.

Facing an even larger volume, it will be necessary to adapt and review our sourcing practices and recruitment process to remain relevant and profitable in terms of recruitment objectives.

Should all my recruiters manage the same number of positions?

With equivalent workload, not all recruiters perform equally.

Some have extensive experience while others are beginners, some have developed a high level of skills while others could benefit from more expertise.

For example:

Some will achieve higher response rates in sourcing, others will develop relationships with Hiring Managers more quickly. Sometimes, they are the same (those, pay them well and keep them warm at your place).

This is the task of a Recruitment Manager or an HR Director to be able to parallel the weighting of the workload and a recruiter's capacity to fulfill it.

So, should all my recruiters manage the same number of positions?

If you have followed this article, you might already have the answer.

With an equivalent volume of positions, it is complicated to envision that all recruiters in the same team would have the same workload (not to mention the impact of seasonality).

As a Recruitment Manager, HR Director, or Chief People Officer, you have two choices:

  • Either you focus your recruiters on their areas of expertise, in which case their workload and goals must be calculated based on their actual activity, and not all will have the same goals (simple example: it's not the same workload to recruit 30 Customer Service Advisors and 30 Data Engineers). You will then need a weighting system, like a "currency exchange," and to reason no longer reason in terms of the number of positions, but rather in terms of workload quantity regarding the difficulty criteria of the positions;

  • Or, for reasons of apparent equity or simplicity in goals, you wish for the entire team to have the same objectives in terms of the number of positions to fill (for example: the goal of 25 recruitments in the year for everyone, whether one is a seasoned recruiter or junior, regardless of market criteria or difficulty). Then it will be complicated to assign dedicated expertise zones to each member of the Talent Acquisition team, with an equal number of positions, the team's portfolio of positions will need to be mixed to distribute the workload and difficulty based on what each can personally absorb. You will also need to evaluate the workload through a weighting system.

So, what goals for the recruiters?

As you can understand, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It requires reflection, analysis, and a true weighting of the workload generated by recruitment.

But this is how the most effective recruitment teams manage to motivate, challenge, and retain their Talent Acquisition specialists over time: by taking into account the reality of the market, and the reality of their own company.

This is also a topic on which we can assist you, as we have done with many companies.


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